Entamoeba Chitinase is Required for Mature Round Cyst Formation

04 Aug 2021

Fumika Mi-ichi, Miako Sakaguchi, Shinjiro Hamano, Hiroki Yoshida

American Society for Microbiology

Doi: 10.1128/Spectrum.00511-21


Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite, causes amoebiasis in humans. Amoebiasis transmission is solely mediated by chitin-walled cysts, which are produced in the large intestine of humans from proliferative trophozoites by a cell differentiation process called encystation. Resistance to environmental stresses, an essential characteristic for transmission, is attributed to the cyst wall, which is constructed from chitin and several protein components, including chitinase. Chitinase may play a key role in cyst wall formation; however, this has not been confirmed. Here, to elucidate the physiological role of chitinase during Entamoeba encystation, we identified a new chitinase inhibitor, 2,6-dichloro-4-[2-(1-piperazinyl)-4-pyridinyl]-N-(1,3,5-trimethyl-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)-benzenesulfonamide, by recombinant-Entamoeba chitinase-based screening of 400 Pathogen Box chemicals. This compound dose dependently inhibited native chitinase associated with Entamoeba invadens encystation, a model for E. histolytica encystation, with an 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of ∼0.6 μM, which is comparable to the IC50s (0.2 to 2.5 μM) for recombinant E. histolytica and E. invadens chitinases. Furthermore, the addition of this compound to E. invadens encystation-inducing cultures increased the generation of cyst walls with an abnormal shape, the most characteristic of which was a “pot-like structure.” A similar structure also appeared in standard culture, but at a far lower frequency. These results indicate that chitinase inhibition increases the number of abnormal encysting cells, thereby significantly reducing the efficiency of cyst formation. Transmission electron microscopy showed that compound-treated encysting cells formed an abnormally loose cyst wall and an unusual gap between the cyst wall and cell membrane. Hence, Entamoeba chitinase is required for the formation of mature round cysts.

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